BOCA RATON, Fla. – Seniors make a good team tick.
Anyone who has run the numbers understands that the most successful programs are the ones that have the most dedicated seniors.
Often times, many of the seniors don’t get the notoriety that others do. They aren’t necessarily all-conference or All-American. They might not have the big stats. They might not even get that much burn.
D-II Quarters: Rice at Florida Atlantic | https://t.co/LVPqbwIA6k #virtualmcla20
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But they show up every day, ready to help their team reach the next level.
Both Rice and Florida Atlantic have seniors who toil in the background for their outfit, but are still important cogs.
For Rice, it is senior Louis Cole.
Cole came to the Owls this fall as someone who never played the sport before. As such, he went through the typical ups and downs of newcomers to the sport – learning the nuances of cradling, catching and throwing and scooping ground balls.
But he kept grinding and started to see more and more time on the field.
“What Louis did was utilize his god given talent – his quickness,” said Rice coach Mike Ormsby. “He learned to beat other players to the ball.”
He became a second line staple and provided depth at defensive midfield. He even challenged the coaching staff to let him faceoff, where he became proficient at the clamp.
“He was a large reason why we did so well down the stretch,” said Ormsby. “His teammates love him and I will truly miss his always-upbeat personality.”
On the Florida Atlantic side, it’s Austin Kendrick.
The senior defensive midfielder is one of the few four-year players for the Owls and, despite a rigorous engineering course load, he showed up to practice every day, filling almost every role on the field.
“Austin is a calming presence both on and off the field,” said Florida Atlantic coach Stavros Neocleous. “Whether he is helping players learn our playbook or tutoring our freshmen, Austin is always doing his part in making us a better team. Austin knows what it takes to win and he always puts it all on the line to get us there.”
So who has the advantage in this Owl on Owl clash?
No. 27 Rice won its second-round matchup against No. 11 Montana by the narrowest of margins. The Owls took 638-of-1,260 votes for a 1.2 percent victory over the Grizzlies.
No. 19 Florida Atlantic was in a barn-burner of its own, grabbing 581 of the 1,131 total votes for a 2.8 percentage point triumph over No. 3 Minn.-Duluth.
The semifinals await the winner.